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HMS Elephant (1786)
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Elephant
Ordered: 27 December 1781
Builder: George Parsons, Bursledon
Laid down: February 1783
Launched: 24 August 1786
Honours and

Participated in:

Fate: Broken up, 1830
Notes: 58-gun fourth rate from 1818
General characteristics [1]
Class & type: Arrogant class ship of the line
Tons burthen: 1604 bm
Length: 168 ft (51 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 46 ft 9 in (14.25 m)
Depth of hold: 19 ft 9 in (6.02 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship

Gundeck: 28 × 32-pounder guns
Upper gundeck: 28 × 18-pounder guns
QD: 14 × 9-pounder guns

Fc: 4 × 9-pounder guns

HMS Elephant was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She was built by George Parsons in Bursledon, Hampshire, and launched on 24 August 1786.[1]

In late November 1790 the ship narrowly avoided destruction when lightning struck her whilst she was in Portsmouth harbour. The main topmast exploded but did not plunge through the quarterdeck as it was still held by the toprope.

In 1801 Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson chose Elephant as his flagship during the Battle of Copenhagen due to its suitability for the shallow waters there. It was on this ship that he is said to have put his telescope to his blind eye and claimed not to be able to see a signal ordering him to withdraw.

In mid-1803, the squadron under Captain Henry William Bayntun, consisting of Cumberland, Hercule, Bellerophon, Elephant, and Vanguard captured Poisson Volant and Superieure.[2] The Royal Navy took both into service. The ship participated in the Blockade of Saint-Domingue in the same year.

Elephant was reduced to a 58-gun fourth-rate in 1818, and broken up in 1830.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p180.
  2. "No. 15620". 13 September 1803. 


  • Lavery, Brian (2003) The Ship of the Line - Volume 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650-1850. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-252-8.

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